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Preschoolers Sickened by E. Coli

October 10, 2001

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MINNEAPOLIS (AP) _ The Minnesota Health Department is investigating an E. coli outbreak that has sickened 14 children from a church preschool and one of their siblings.

Two children remained hospitalized Tuesday, one with a potentially fatal kidney complication, health officials said.

The source of the outbreak had not been determined, but health officials were focusing on an apple orchard the preschoolers visited in late September. The first case of E. coli poisoning was reported four days later, said Dr. Harry Hull, the state epidemiologist.

E. coli causes painful abdominal cramping and severe, bloody diarrhea. Most infections are linked to eating undercooked, contaminated meat, but E. coli also has been spread through unpasteurized juice and through produce prepared on countertops contaminated with the bacteria.

The children, from Berry Patch preschool at Colonial Church of Edina, in suburban Minneapolis, were given apple cider during the field trip, but the juice was pasteurized, Hull said. The children are 3 and 4 years old.

Dr. Kirk Smith, a Health Department epidemiologist, said the apples could have come in contact with a contaminated surface or been washed in water that contained the bacteria.

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On the Net:

FDA on E. coli: http://vm.cfsan.fda.gov/(tilde)mow/chap15.html

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